Friday, 11 July 2014

Multiverse: Hard SF And Fantasy

Greg Bear and Gardner Dozois, Editors, Multiverse: Exploring Poul Anderson's Worlds (Burton, MI, 2014).

The preceding two posts, about a Three Hearts And Three Lions sequel and an AI/STL story, demonstrate that Multiverse rightly celebrates the yin and yang of Poul Anderson's versatile creative imagination, both his ingenious "hard fantasy" and his speculative hard sf. Tad Williams highlights this literary polarity in the afterword to his "Three Lilies and Three Leopards (And a Participation Ribbon in Science)":

Three Hearts - "...trying to figure out how [a magical world] actually WORKED" (p. 393);
Tau Zero -"...fictional science...as exciting as magic..." (ibid.).

Inspired by Anderson, Williams is a "...'hard fantasy' writer..." who also pursues ideas irrespective of "...genre boundaries." (ibid.) Anderson showed him that "...facts make fantasy more believable..." (ibid.)

Earlier on this blog, I used used the term "hard fantasy" to categorize:

Magic Inc by Robert Heinlein, about magic as technology;
Anderson's Operation... series, developing Heinlein's premise further;
Black Easter/The Day After Judgment by James Blish, about demons but stylistically indistinguishable from hard sf;
The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers, combining gods and magic with scientifically rationalized time travel.

Harry Turtledove and Tad Williams write Three Hearts... sequels that move in completely different directions. I was unable to cope with the complexities of "Three Lilies..." when reading and blogging late at night. That will have to be another post.

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